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9780312573768

Keeper and Kid A Novel

by
  • ISBN13:

    9780312573768

  • ISBN10:

    0312573766

  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2009-08-04
  • Publisher: Griffin

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Summary

A fine, fetching novel with a good heart . . . a tribute to the author's endless comic inventiveness. '”Stewart O'Nan, author of Songs for the Missing Three years after his divorce, JamesKeeper is enjoying hisnew job selling antiques at a quirky shop. His new love, Leah, is intriguing and passionate.Business is steadyand Keeper's friends always turn up for Card Night. But one phone call from his former mother-in-law changes it all. Days later, Keeper comes away with a son he never knew he had.Immediately, life takes on a new meaning. As he and Leo adjust to the shock of each other and their suddenly altered lives, Keeper begins to letin the people in his life'”by turns strange and heartwarming; funny and painful.A coming of age story for the guy who thought he had already grown up, this novel is a sharp and witty account of what we do for love. One of the most enchantingly realistic tots in recent fiction. We don't know whether to keep turning the pages or dive into them and offer to help babysit. '” The Boston Globe Keeper and Kid is a marvel. I dare you. Open this book and try to put it down. '”Ann Hood, author of The Knitting Circle At once immensely engaging and about the things that matter most: how we love, how we move on, how the past moves with us. Lovely, wise, and surprising. '”Elizabeth Graver, author of The Honey Thief It isn't merely 'amusing,' it is downright funny . . .[Hardy] creates characters so eccentric and endearing you'll be sorry to see the last of them. '” Statesman Journal (Salem, Oregon)

Author Biography

Edward Hardy is the author of the novel Geyser Life, grew up in Ithaca, has an MFA from Cornell, and has published stories with Ploughshares, GQ, Witness, the Quarterly, the Massachusetts Review, and other literary magazines. His work has been included in The Best American Short Stories, and he lives in Rhode Island.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1

If dogs, rats, and pigs can all sense a looming earthquake and make plans, how come all I can manage is a quick stare at the phone just before it rings? I was at work, wishing for another cup of coffee. It was 9:32 and they were playing Big Maybell on WRIU’s Hard Boiled Jazz show, at some other Cynthia’s request, so her name was already in the air. There was no one else in the shop. Just me, searching the Web to gauge how much the prewar Lionel trains and rolling stock in the box at my feet might be worth.

On the second ring I picked up and said, “Love and Death,” as that’s the shop’s name. It’s one half of this antique store salvage yard empire that my middle-school buddy Tim asked me to come down to Providence and help run. That was four years ago, shortly after everything in Boston spun apart.

“Jimmy?” It was Joan, Cynthia’s mom and my ex-mother-in-law. My shoulders hiked because everybody here calls me something else. To Tim, I’m Keeper, my last name. Leah, my girlfriend, calls me Keeper, too, but she’s working on making the switch to James.

“Joan? How did—”

“I called Tim at home, which was Cynthia’s idea.” Usually Joan sounded like the high school vice principal she used to be, but right then her voice felt thin, as if it were pushing out from under a rock. “Did you move?” she asked. “Would a forwarding message have been so hard?” Her tongue made a click. “This will be a shock,” she said, “but Cynthia really is quite sick and I am not using that term lightly. She would like to see you. Today.”

My first thought, which I knew had to be wrong, was that Cynthia had a cold or bronchitis, pneumonia at the worst. Something you could solve with soup. Cynthia never got sick. She was one of those healthy-as-a-horse exemptions you’d expect to read about in some study. I used to think it was all that adrenaline, knocking off viruses right and left before they could get a toehold. “What do you mean sick?” I asked.

“Exactly what I said.” Joan’s tongue clicked again. “We’re at Mass General and she would like you to visit. Early afternoon is generally a good time for her.”

A heating oil truck downshifted on Wickenden Street. I closed my eyes.

“Jimmy,” Joan said, “Cynthia would like to ask a favor.” Even from an hour away I could tell that Joan didn’t like the idea of this.

I said, “What room?”

She hung up. I stared at the phone, examining the holes in the red handset the way everyone always does in the movies.

Mass General, I thought. Okay, I can find the room. And yes, it annoyed me that Joan wouldn’t say what had happened, but it wasn’t a surprise. I had already decided that whatever it was couldn’t be that bad. Cynthia was tough. Tougher than me by a factor of ten. Cynthia. All those days, and a lot of them, most of them, good enough to be scary. Even then, in certain moments it still felt like I had done something wrong.

The snow-amplified sun kept pushing through the windows, reflecting off the hairdressing shop’s plate glass across the street. Big Maybell kept on singing. I needed coffee. I still had the phone in my hand. It was still red. It felt like that night when I was ten, staring out my bedroom window when I should have been asleep, watching as the sky turned white because a meteor landed three states away and not knowing until the next morning what it was I’d seen.
 

Copyright © 2007 by Edward Hardy. All rights reserved.

Excerpts

Chapter 1

If dogs, rats, and pigs can all sense a looming earthquake and make plans, how come all I can manage is a quick stare at the phone just before it rings? I was at work, wishing for another cup of coffee. It was 9:32 and they were playing Big Maybell on WRIU’s Hard Boiled Jazz show, at some other Cynthia’s request, so her name was already in the air. There was no one else in the shop. Just me, searching the Web to gauge how much the prewar Lionel trains and rolling stock in the box at my feet might be worth.

On the second ring I picked up and said, “Love and Death,” as that’s the shop’s name. It’s one half of this antique store salvage yard empire that my middle-school buddy Tim asked me to come down to Providence and help run. That was four years ago, shortly after everything in Boston spun apart.

“Jimmy?” It was Joan, Cynthia’s mom and my ex-mother-in-law. My shoulders hiked because everybody here calls me something else. To Tim, I’m Keeper, my last name. Leah, my girlfriend, calls me Keeper, too, but she’s working on making the switch to James.

“Joan? How did—”

“I called Tim at home, which was Cynthia’s idea.” Usually Joan sounded like the high school vice principal she used to be, but right then her voice felt thin, as if it were pushing out from under a rock. “Did you move?” she asked. “Would a forwarding message have been so hard?” Her tongue made a click. “This will be a shock,” she said, “but Cynthia really is quite sick and I am not using that term lightly. She would like to see you. Today.”

My first thought, which I knew had to be wrong, was that Cynthia had a cold or bronchitis, pneumonia at the worst. Something you could solve with soup. Cynthia never got sick. She was one of those healthy-as-a-horse exemptions you’d expect to read about in some study. I used to think it was all that adrenaline, knocking off viruses right and left before they could get a toehold. “What do you mean sick?” I asked.

“Exactly what I said.” Joan’s tongue clicked again. “We’re at Mass General and she would like you to visit. Early afternoon is generally a good time for her.”

A heating oil truck downshifted on Wickenden Street. I closed my eyes.

“Jimmy,” Joan said, “Cynthia would like to ask a favor.” Even from an hour away I could tell that Joan didn’t like the idea of this.

I said, “What room?”

She hung up. I stared at the phone, examining the holes in the red handset the way everyone always does in the movies.

Mass General, I thought. Okay, I can find the room. And yes, it annoyed me that Joan wouldn’t say what had happened, but it wasn’t a surprise. I had already decided that whatever it was couldn’t be that bad. Cynthia was tough. Tougher than me by a factor of ten. Cynthia. All those days, and a lot of them, most of them, good enough to be scary. Even then, in certain moments it still felt like I had done something wrong.

The snow-amplified sun kept pushing through the windows, reflecting off the hairdressing shop’s plate glass across the street. Big Maybell kept on singing. I needed coffee. I still had the phone in my hand. It was still red. It felt like that night when I was ten, staring out my bedroom window when I should have been asleep, watching as the sky turned white because a meteor landed three states away and not knowing until the next morning what it was I’d seen.
 

Copyright © 2007 by Edward Hardy. All rights reserved.

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